Late last night my computer case began to rattle. I knew immediately that this was going to be the harbinger of pain, sorrow, and frustration.
I have a serious love/hate relationship with technology. I’m an unrepentant geek and have been since I’ve been old enough to remember, and I’m absolutely astonished at where the last 36 years have taken us – and I can’t wait to see the next few decades of advancement. At the same time, my track record with personal technological devices is far from stellar, usually because I’ve never been one to do the smart thing; if there’s an option to say, buy a pre-built computer or build one myself I’ll always choose the latter, and no matter how much expertise I might have with stuff like that my tech builds always end up giving me ridiculous amounts of grief. Last night when I heard that rattle, I knew that it was going to be the beginning of the end.
Investigating and troubleshooting software and hardware problems is often no better than flailing around in the dark hoping you hit the light switch. Even if you use methodical testing and deductive reasoning you’re still pretty much relying on guesswork a lot of the time, especially when it comes to the levels of complexity of a typical desktop computer. However, when you hear your case start to make the same sound a disturbed rattlesnake does you can pretty much rest assured that one of the case fans is developing a problem.
Considering how it’s been so damned hot here lately, the last thing I needed was a cooling fan failure. I immediately shut down and popped open the case, checking carefully for any wires or cabling that might have come loose and that were brushing up against one of the several fans inside a typical computer case. An overheating computer is one thing, but a fan that ends up severing a power or data cable is another whole can of worms altogether after all. Finally I managed to track down the problem – one of the intake fans on the front of the computer was inexplicably rattling.
I say inexplicably because that’s just what it turned out to be. The fan wasn’t loose, nor was there enough dust build-up to interfere with it. Likewise there were no loose wires brushing up against the fan from either side. Not only that, but the rattle would only stop if I (very gently and carefully) applied some lateral pressure to the fan while it was spinning. In other words, I didn’t know what the fuck was causing the problem except for some structural issue with the entire fan itself.
Ain’t nobody got time for that. Yeah I can get a replacement fan and sub it out to see if it solves the problem, but the problem has since become intermittent. This is though, I’m convinced, just the first in a long line of problems that will eventually mean the end of this particular computer. I’m honestly not that surprised, considering I built the thing in 2009 and I’ve been replacing parts as they failed steadily over that time. I’m really not looking forward to having to completely overhaul this thing, though. If it comes down to moving components to a new case, it’s time to just build a brand-new computer altogether and I really don’t have the funds for that. I guess it’s time to get out the spit and bailing wire once again!